2013 Aboard My Way

On 08th February 2013 we re-launched My Way after her period of routine winter maintenance and some tender loving care.

Thankfully everything went well and over 09th 10th February managed our first weekend afloat of the new 2013 season.

With spring tides upon us and not the best weather conditions, we decided to remain inshore on both days and try for a few different species to get the year underway.

The first day and it was a slow start for a few hours, with only the odd dogfish and whiting making an appearance. A change of mark mid morning and thankfully the fish started to come aboard a bit more frequently.

A further change of marks in the afternoon aided us in achieving a respectable 9 species for cold day in early February; dogfish, dab, whiting, bull huss, coalie, codling, pouting, sea scorpions and a couple nice thornbacks rays.

The following couple days fished in a similar manner, with plenty of fish and species, but nothing going over the double figure threshold.

Whiting, dogfish and bull huss making up the bulk of the day with a few nice thornbacks.

Even managed a small coalfish for myself 🙂

Fun was had and 2013 is underway … looking forward to another great year afloat.

February was being extremely kind to us, My Way having only been afloat for 11 days in the year, had already sailed on 7 occasions, each day though with greatly varying results.

Over the weekend of 16th 17th the forecast wind had shown light southerlys decreasing, however each day the constant wind speed remained in the high teens, often gusting well over 20mph, undeterred and with shelter from the southerly direction we managed to sail and catch a good number of fish from a variety of species.

The fishing although, consistent for February from Anglesey, remained hard work at times and a number of moves around the bay are often required in a day to keep the anglers catching throughout our time afloat.

We had plenty of coalies swimming around Holyhead, with an average size of 2lb.

Not the biggest but great sport on light tackle and a welcome change from the ever present dogfish and small whiting, coalfish are not too common neither, so it was nice to see a few lads catch their first coalie with us.

Fishing was similar to the previous weekend with dogs, whiting and dabs making up the bulk of most anglers hauls with the addition of a few other species such as huss, thornbacks, codling and coalfish making the odd appearance.

By 19th, the weather had settled to barely a ripple on the water and with small tides and light winds we had decided on an early sail and a journey out to Holyhead Deep in search of some early spurdog fishing.

Normally we see the odd few this early, but tend to leave our spurdog adventures till the middle of March.

However with some of our crew having never caught a spurdog before, our trip had these hard fighting small sharks as our main priority.

Thankfully, we managed to land a few, with the majority going into double figures, Bryn Jones and Ricky Thomas were both able to record their first ever spurdog and Harry Hudson, who’d not caught a spur for a decade or two, managed to snare a couple including the heaviest of the day at 14lb.

 

 

March ….This report comes from Angler Mark Dolben who fishes regular aboard My Way.

I’ve just spent two days aboard my way targeting spurdogs in the Holyhead deeps.
OK the first day it just wasn’t happening for me and at one point I was nicknamed the doggie king lol. That’s not to say it was only dogs that came to the boat,the other lads enjoying some superb action landing some cracking Spurs and Huss most well in to double figures.

Then it was a move in shore for a spot of general fishing in the afternoon and the boat was kept busy with ray’s, huss, pollack, cod, whiting, oh and plenty more dogs for me! I think it was because I stuck it out all day with big fish baits hoping for a better fish and it just wasn’t my day and the dogs were to quick, but that’s fishing!

On the second day it was touch and go if we would make it out to the deeps, the wind had picked up a fair bit from the flat calm Sunny day before but in the end it was decided it would be safe enough as the wind was not forecast to get any stronger to make the trip.

This time we steamed out to a different mark up to the north, and it was on the way out that I remembered something Gethyn had noticed and commented the day before the two biggest spurs came on identical rigs and bait.

So I nipped in to the wheel house and Gethyn sorted me out with some of the rigs which he ties himself and some advice on how best to set the hook and bait to use the end result was my first ever and new personal best spurdog a cracking fish well into double figures and the biggest fish of the day, I was absolutely made up and will remember the day for a long time to come, a big thank you to Gethyn for his advice and lesson learn (again)

After that it was more of the same and a hearty dinner of sausage black pudding and baked bean sandwiches (ooh there good!) We steamed back in for some more general fishing in the afternoon, where we enjoyed another good mixed bag of fish.

So I would just like to say that I can’t recommend a trip on My way enough great fishing good food a good bit of banter with the crew and a skipper that knows what he’s on about. I had a great couple of days and can’t wait till next time.
tight lines Mark.

Original report can be found on the CBUK website

April looked to be starting off well … an extract from our Facebook page on this days fishing reads as follows:-

Glorious sunshine and flat calm seas today, nice end to the Easter period … sadly the fish failed to read my email! A painfully slow start to the day, drifting around the coast to Trearddur Bay saw no fish for the first 90 mins. A move to anchor, then a further move finally saw a few doggies, with the odd codling and whiting break the surface of the water.

Additionally we had a fair number of bull huss, sadly they were the smallest huss I had ever seen, the largest was smaller than a standard Dogfish ! The deep was sadly hard work also.

Dave managed to hook a beauty of a spurdog towards the end of our time, following on from Ian Thomo who hooked into the only other spur of the session, everyone else catching just dogs. Fortunately for Ian, it was his first Spurdog and a very a decent one at 14lb 6oz.

The fishing through early April was hard work; even the Dogfish were showing signs of hibernation.

Normally April is a month that really gets going, all manner of species moving in and some fantastic sport with Spurdog, Bull Huss and small pack Tope arriving in the Holyhead Deep.

However the fishing was slow and weeks behind the norm, similar reports were being heard from all around the UK.

Towards the 3rd week of April things started to pick up on the fish front, with quantity and more species moving in. This was when we managed another couple days afloat, having canceled numerous trips in between leaving both me and the anglers extremely frustrated.

With a planned trip off to the Deeps restricted again by a strong NW breeze one mid-April day, our efforts centered on various marks within Holyhead Bay.

The usual suspects of dogs, whiting, dabs, small huss, codling plus more showing up to grace our baits and help out some of the crew with their clubs on going 2013 species hunt.

The following day the wind swung around to the south, too strong again to allow us to get to the deeper marks offshore but it allowed us to drift a few inshore marks around the Breakwater and Rocky coast in search of early season pollack that move in to Holyhead Bay.

Thankfully the Pollack had arrived, nothing too big, the best specimen probably going 4lb, but with a fair number in the 2 to 4lb bracket, a few buckets were filled with some nice chunky fillets going home with the anglers.

Sadly the 20mph denied the chance of playing in the Deeps yesterday with the small Yuki rods, undeterred, some great little sport was had with some inshore pollack fishing.

Light tackle and 25 to 35 foot of water, makes for some great fun with these hard fighting fish

Sadly, the over all wind patterns remain unsettled for us at the moment and whilst colleagues on the south coast have basked in some fantastic calm seas, and hot days, we have had to dodge winds for the odd day or two afloat.

On the plus side, things though are quickly improving, the waters are warming up, the crabs are starting to peel and fish are moving into the bay with each passing day.

Despite a healthy calendar, early May still fell foul to the weather gods.

High winds once again leading to the cancellation of far more trips than we actually managed to sail on. When we did manage to sneak out, the back of the breakwater was still producing some nice Pollack. With plenty in the 1 to 2lb bracket, we also hooked into a good few up to 5lb in weight, offering a nice meal for the lucky angler. At anchor we started to see far more fish than the struggle we had through the bitterly cold weather in late March and April. With Dogfish , Whiting, Dab and Codling we also caught some small thorniest and huss approaching double figures.

It was though Smoothhound we really wanted.

After a break of 10days, canceling every trip along the way through high winds, we managed a nice few days afloat from 17th May. This was to be our first attempt at landing a smoothie this year. Our day actually started with some drifting. Everyone tackled light and we had some great sport for a few hours catching pollack, cuckoo and ballan wrasse.

By lunch it was time to head over to our anchor and try for a few hounds. The waters though were still fairly cold compared to recent years; this was seriously affecting the crab moult. Cold waters had stopped the big spring moult required to bring the big Smoothhound to our shores on the feed.

Regardless we made our best attempt, primed with some quality Anglesey peeler crab. It took an hour before local angler Arron Miles had a clear bite and run from the first hound of 2013, as I jumped for joy and screamed “you hero” Arron lifted into the hound …… and lost it!

To which I called him something else, “hero to zero in 10 seconds” Billy pointed out!

Arron though had the last laugh as he went on to land the only two smoothhounds of the day and get My Ways Smoothhounds truly underway.

The following day the wind was once again playing havoc with our attempts to get out fishing.

Delaying the sail time to lunchtime, we once again set off with high hopes; sadly though no smoothies graced the decks of My Way that afternoon or evening.

Proof to the ridiculous nature of the unsettled weather we are experiencing this year was these few days. The scenario was Friday light NW, Saturday strong NE and then Sunday, sunshine, no wind and calm seas.

With the Smoothhound still being a little unpredictable mid May, I made the suggestion one day that we make the most of the neap tide and glorious weather and head off shore in search of some bigger pollack action and maybe a few huss and spurdogs; not exactly what the crew wanted, but in fairness the guys were happy to take on board my observations on the state of the current fishing situation.

   

With nervous anticipation I set My Way up for the first pass over the wreck and as I called the warning the sunken vessel was coming up, I could see Marks rod tip bend over as a hard fighting Pollack hit his lure.

On the first drift we had a few nice Pollack grace the decks of My Way including a 10lb er for Mark. A few more drifts and everyone was hooking into fish and a few the wreck!

A couple drifts and Mark in particular had 3 fish in his bag for a return of 27lb, not bad fishing at all for our small part of the world. 

Even the 2013 Fladen Fishing UK Smoothhound Challenge aboard My Way couldn’t avoid the appalling weather that we have been suffering over recent months.

Due to be fished over 3 days – Bank Holiday Monday 27th, Tues 28th and Weds 29th May 2013, we only managed to fish the Tuesday, with the Tuesday evening trip being called short as high winds and driving rain made an early appearance.

With smoothhounds starting to show, albeit a few weeks late, we set sail early Tuesday 28th May with a hefty slice of confidence. Aboard My Way we had good anglers, perfect crab and plenty of food, all the ingredients required for a top day hounding.

June was a hectic month aboard My Way, the weather on a couple days thwarted our plans, but thankfully not too many to mention. On the whole, it was a great time aflaot.

For the first few days of June I was joined aboard My Way by a great group of friends from around the UK – various parts of Scotland, down to Oxford and the nearest a relatively short journey from Cheshire.

This has become a regular trip over the years with our main targets Holyheads Smoothhound. We have though also suffered from the weather and many times have had a day or more canceled. This time around we had an extremely favorable forecast for all 3 days.

Peter with a personal best 22lb 5oz Smoothhound

Gareth having read Boat Fishing Monthly and one of my Smoothhound articles …. gets lucky!

Another annual pilgrimage followed on later that same week when Harry and I were joined aboard My Way by the Boat Fishing Monthly Team, this time Dave and Jim bringing ad man Daz up to sample some hot fishing and hot Holyhead nightlife.

As with last years couple days, we were also joined by Mike Thrussell jnr from World Sea Fishing and also a competition winner who had won the chance to fish aboard My Way with the great possibility of joining that VIP club for 20lb hound captors.

Sadly last year the hounds played hard to get, we did land a few doubles on light spinning gear, but never got near the 20lb threshold.

This year I was confident, the fishing had finally kicked up a few gears following 2 months of doldrums had – sun was out, the crabs were peeling and we had already landed a 20lb, you can read the full story in an upcoming issue of BFM, but yes, Tom made it with a 24lb 5oz beauty.

We remained Smoothhound hunting for the coming weeks – some days also adding general fishing for dogs, dabs, huss, gurnards etc. to the day when the tides never suited for an all out assault on the hounds. When hounding some days fished far better than others, there was no definite cycle to the days that we struggled, nothing I could say was to blame to be honest just a simple case of the Smoothhound not being there.

What we need to remember is that with the Smoothhound off the Holyhead coast tending to be mainly double figure sharks, they do seem to be more solitary feeders and not pack fish associated with those in smaller sizes.

We sometimes see 3 or 4 come through, then it goes quite for an hour or more, then others swim through! Challenging fishing indeed that really does try your patience!

2013 ended with us boat 6 20lb plus smoothies, with myself also breaking my PB and adding another 20lb+ hound to my personal achievements, great fishing

BFM editor Dave Barham with yet another Holyhead Hound

Comp Winner Tom with his 22lber

With gereat weather and neap tides in the middle of June, it was a quick chat with the crews and was soon decided to shoot offshore to the edges of Holyhead Deeps were we would be able to try out a few wrecks in 180foot of water for pollack and codling. Over slack water we would drop anchor and hopefully connect with more sharks but this time tope, spurdogs and huss. Fortunately the gamble over these 3 days paid off, during the few hours on the drift over the ebbing tide, we pulled out many pollack averaging 6lb in weight. We also managed to pull out a dozen fish into double figures, the best weighing 11lb 8oz.

With all days for individuals, it was a great mixed bag of abilities as well as fish, with everyone reeling in something of note.

On the Monday we had a group of regulars from Burnley in Lancashire, having fished the previous week in some poor weather, but still managing to land the targeted hounds, today was a great blessing. Having had many trips canceled of late and the one fished remaining inshore, a foray offshore for bigger stuff and possibly a few table fish was music to everyones ears. Thankfully everyone was rewarded with pollack on the drift, and then huss, spurdogs and tope at anchor, the best going 22lb for Pepe … was a great day, made better with some great biscuits and scones from Mrs Eve, thanks.

As we planned to say goodbye to our annual Smoothhound season we wanted it to go in epic fashion and not fizzle out as slowly as it had started, left with a few days mid-week to make the most of the tides and continual arrival of fresh peeler crab we set out with only hounds on our minds.

Thankfully, the Smoothhound were game on and we were treated to just short of 50 double figure hounds, including 2 over 20lb and many in the small 8lb bracket.

Both 20lbers fell to anglers having a play around with the Yuki Manacor rod from Moonfleet Angling in Gateshead.

This 4 piece senor tip rod comes complete with 4 interchangeable tip sections, rated 1,2,3 and 4 oz. Primarily used for smaller species that require delicate bite detection this rod is equally at home when landing powerful and hard fighting 20lb plus Smoothhound . Graham pictured above with his a new pb of 22lb 10 oz, beating his previous of 22lb 3oz caught aboard My Way 2 years ago.

Inshore following the slow start, the fishing was also improving, at anchor a variety of species were helping the anglers to some great mixed bags.

Many ticking off a whole host of species required for personal and club species hunts. The wrasse that had been missing for what seemed an eternity finally started to arrive in numbers through July. Nothing too big at the moment but a fairly plentiful amount of both Ballan and Cuckoo for most anglers to catch along with the odd corkwing and Goldsinny.

July saw some fantastic fishing in the Deeps with double figure Pollack over the wrecks, along with huss, spurdogs and small tope. Hopes were high that July wasn’t going to disappoint! Again the weather scuppered our plans on occasions but when we did get out there we were treated to some great fishing, both from the drift and anchor work. The Pollack fishing was hard at times; we caught on most drifts but only one or two. What became apparent when gutting our catch for the supper table was that they were all stuffed full with sandeel. It seems the Pollack were already filling themselves with bait fish before our arrival.

Bites were delicate and fishing tough as the pollack seemed only to snatch at our lures as they passed their heads, they never really needed to chase the lures or hit them hard in any feeding frenzy.

One day in particular summed up August 2013, here is the report from that day

The weather gods tried to steal today from us, however with no Holyhead Deep we decided upon a species hunt from 3 favourite marks around the bay instead. Here is a brief report on how it went.

A strong SW wind had us battling a lumpy sea towards the North Stack area to start our day on the drift with wrasse and maybe some small pollack our intended targets.

On the drift Menai Bridge angler Mark Dolben was proving a worthy opponent for the wrasse family adding numerous ballans, goldsinny and cuckoo wrasse to his impressive tally of fish for the first hour. A few mackerel came to the boat throughout the day, sadly not in any decent amount, just the odd couple now and then.

Arron Miles form Holyhead was also catching a plentiful amount of ballan wrasse before he scaled down his gear after mini species and was duly rewarded by this small rock goby. As the speed of our drift slowed down so did the fishing so it was time to move over to the mussel beds.

We went to a mark around a mile further west than we normally go, making use of the neap tide and fishing a mark deeper than normal. We did though struggle for fish! Were as normally it is one after another, single, double and triple shots of dogs, whiting dabs gurnards etc. along with the odd huss and ray, we were getting only the odd fish now and then with only one triple hook up of dogs.

Something was amiss!

Holyhead bay in August there is always a good chance of a big tope if you’re prepared to sit out with a big bait ignoring all the smaller species.

Mark though wanted a tope and was determined to give it his best through our anchor on the mussel beds.

Fortunately he was rewarded an hour into the anchor, with a first tope and awesome PB level of 48lb 7oz, Mark also followed this tope up with an other mid 30lber

We ended the day inshore where we managed to add a few smoothies, poor cod and codling to our species tally. So from a gloomy start to the day we had a great day inshore species hunting , enjoyed by all on board.

16 species, not bad for a change of plan …

Earlier i described one day in particular in August, the weather being so unpredictable, it can be frustrating at times, tales of woe thanks to the strong winds keeping us inshore instead of making way to Holyhead Deep for large pollack, tope and spurs. The month was littered with days off during the middle, however we also managed to grab the odd day within Holyhead Bay; drifting and anchoring we were fortunate once again to hook into a good mixed bag of species.

The Bolivar rock is a favourite of mine in Holyhead Bay for drifting; however you have to have conditions right! A strong tide and your gear is lost to Davy Jones as quickly as you can re tie and drop down. When calm you have lardy blokes having their midlife crisis by zooming around on jet skis, the fish soon run for cover in the shallow waters. But when it’s good, it can be very good with anglers reeling in numerous ballan and cuckoo wrasse with the odd corkwing. Fishing a high flyer we’re often rewarded with sizable pollack. At anchor there has been a good mixed bag of the usual suspects, with a great number of red gurnards showing with deep red colours, a striking looking fish, by far the prettiest of the gurnard family,

We required a 90minute steam to our mark, normally we break down the journey with inshore drifting on our way out, but both days the early start was planned as late as could be allowed and a direct run out chosen instead.

A couple brews and an empty biscuit barrel later we soon arrived at out chosen wreck, before I could step out the cabin, an array of different jellie worms, red gills and sidewinders etc were being lowered over the side of My Way.

First drift and nothing! Oops, OK I said, I was just setting that one up – I then suggested someone move over to the starboard side of the boat as there was an uneven balance of anglers just asking for tangling trouble – no one moved until Micky said I’ll go!

Next drift …. Guess who caught from where!

Threats of violence soon followed, but before action could be taken we were drifting again.

The wreck chosen lies in 200ft of water and was only small so if you got it wrong or missed out the first call of down, you’d be better of waiting to save tangling your trace line, lol.

Thankfully we were catching each drift, sometimes the one hook up, other times 3 or 4 and sometimes the wreck. Warning of wreck approaching was always given, but as true fisherman, most fished very close were the sounder showed the fish to be feeding…

On their first boat fishing trip, we were joined one day by Jeanne and Jeff from The Fishing Cabin in Widnes, puddle danglers by profession they wanted to see what all the fuss was about in boat angling, after bit of coaching from Harry and a number of lost sidewinders, they were both soon bringing in some decent pollack.

Jeanne showing the boys how to do it with a few pollack, the best of the day going just short of 9lb in weight.

With the last week of August producing some great fishing in the deeps, it was hoped that things would continue in similar fashion with next set of small tides in early September. Sadly the weather decided to play its part and curtailed our movements offshore. Thankfully the fishing was lively inshore, with a general species hunt being the order for a good few days.

Starting September we were joined once more by the Skegness Pier Angling Club, a great bunch of male and female anglers all eager to test out the varied fishing on offer from our coast. The wind stopped play on the Saturday, leaving a few to brave the elements on Holyhead Breakwater, but thankfully settled down for Sunday and despite blustery conditions we were able to have a good fish both at anchor and whilst drifting.

Despite a valiant effort from the men, it’s fair to say that the ladies came up trumps with a variety of species on the day including plenty of Gurnard at anchor and both Ballan and Cuckoo wrasse on the drift.

Sadly the majority of September was littered with wind, all directions and speeds, leaving us grabbing the odd day here and there.

During the second week we did manage to sneak a day in the deeps and most of the anglers were rewarded in pollack to 5lb in weight. Not monsters, but quality fishing none the less and enjoyed by everyone catching.

Towards the last week of the month we started to see some settled weather, and with the addition of neap tides from the Tuesday we had high hopes for some good fishing.

Inshore for the penultimate weekend of the month we were treated to an abundance of fish again with gurnards once again making regular appearances along with the ever present doggies, huss and whiting etc. Drifting the inshore rocks the pollack and wrasse fishing had fish averaging 2 to 3lb regularly coming to the boat; some pollack staying aboard whilst many others returned for another day.

Best of the few days inshore in September fell to the charm of My Way regular Carl ‘Monty’ Burns whilst fishing a slack water over Holyhead’s mussel beds. As the tide started to run once again, Carl changed tactics to fish a whole whiting he had caught earlier on a large hook and 150lb running ledger.

As the tide strength reached un-fishable, the ratchet from Carl’s reel screamed off and his 12lb class BeastMaster arched over towards the water …. Tope on! This tope ran downtide, using the added momentum of tide to nearly spool Carl’s reel as he delicately tried to apply pressure and slow the tope down; without snapping off!

After what seemed an eternity, Carl managed to turn the shark and started to make some ground back, only for the tope to take turn after turn back down the tide. 40 minutes later, a magnificent looking tope finally broke the surface and into the net of My Way, a bent net that was showing signs of some great fishing in 2013.

One great feeling aboard My Way is when regular anglers become friends and take it upon themselves to bring offerings for everyone on board.

You often see shared bait, rigs or lures being handed out to anglers slow on catching, not just club bookings neither, but individual days.

Besides all that there is also the Floating Café tag My Way often receives, and why not! Part of a good day is good food.

One trip in September a perfect example, local rod Dave from Benllech had been busy in the kitchen watching his wife Karen preparing some fantastic homemade shepherds pies for everyone to enjoy. Brooksy had popped into the bakery the previous evening and secured a bag full of cheese covered rolls for the group, whilst Jacks wife Claire had been baking and treated us all to a most delicious Victoria Sponge.

I love my job!

And that day in particular the fishing was also on fire, including ….

The first week in October we managed some fantastic days at sea.

The weather wouldn’t allow for us to travel offshore to sample some more delights in Holyhead Deep so we remained inshore targeting an array of species and also some great nice tope fishing, managing to snare a few personal bests for all concerned.

 

 

When a good bunch of lads book a few days afloat, and stay over – things sometimes go astray (don’t ask) ….

Following middle of October the weather took a big turn for the worse. With most of the UK suffering extreme weather patterns, Holyhead was no different and we struggled to get out. November and December 2013 saw me cancelling all but a handful of trips booked.

On the days afloat we still managed some good fishing, mixed bags of late autumn early winter Holyhead style – dogs, whiting, huss, rays, pollack, mini species etc. Great fun all the same.

Thanks for all your support through 2013 , fingers crossed for calm seas and excellent days afloat throughout 2014

 

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